Yamakawa Shuho, (1898-1944)
Study of Two Women
hanging scroll, ink and colors on paper, signed Shuho, sealed Shuho, ca. 1931
painting: 42 3/8 by 19 7/8 in., 107.6 by 50.5 cm
overall: 79 1/8 by 23 7/8 in, 201 by 60.8 cm
Yamakawa Shuho, a student of Kaburaki Kiyokata (1878-1972), was a successful painter whose work was consistently included in the prestigious government-sponsored Teiten exhibitions where he frequently won awards, including the Tokusen (Special Award), which was the highest honors, first in 1927 and again in 1930. His virtuosity in painting, recognized early in his career when one of his paintings was accepted to the Nihongakai (Japan Painting Association) in 1915, was further exposed by marrying well. In January 1925 he married the daughter of the Kyoto industrialist Atsumi Kanjiro who was a school friend of Princess Kuni Satoko (Otani Satoko, 1906-1989) whose older sister Princess Nagako (the future Empress Kojun) had married Crown Prince Hirohito (Emperor Showa). The wedding at the Toshogu Shinto shrine in Ueno Park was newsworthy enough to be covered the February 1925 issue of Geijutsu (Art) magazine. His proximity to wealth and power allowed Shuho access to (and the patronage of) the inner circles of Japanese high society. While most of his painting subjects were of bijin in the traditional sense of an idealized beauty, frequently he was able to portray portraits of specific well-known socialites.
In the early 1930s Shuho began focusing on the subject of dance- several painting from these period focused on a range of dance styles.
The standing beauty in the back is a study for Uncostumed Dance (Su-odori), a two-panel screen (whereabouts unknown) that was submitted to the 16th Kyodokai and the 12th Teiten in 1931.
Andreas Marks, Seven Masters: 20th Century Japanese Woodblock Prints from the Wells Collection, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2015, pp. 173-179, and p. 259, illus. no. 13 (two-panel screen)
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